GAO: DOD, VA Behind Schedule on Plans for Interoperable EHRs

Plans to make the departments of Defense and Veterans Affairs' electronic health record systems more interoperable are behind schedule, according to a new Government Accountability Office report, Health Data Management reports (Slabodkin, Health Data Management, 8/14).

Background

In February 2013, DOD and VA officials announced plans to halt a joint integrated electronic health record, or iEHR system, and instead focus on making their current EHR systems more interoperable (iHealthBeat, 1/9).

Earlier this month, DOD awarded its EHR modernization contract to a team comprised of EHR vendor Cerner, Leidos, a government systems integrator, and Accenture Federal.

Officials said the new system will be deployed at about 1,000 sites in the U.S. and abroad, including the DOD's 55 hospitals and more than 600 clinics. The system will be implemented over six or seven years (iHealthBeat, 8/5).

GAO Report Findings  

In the report, GAO noted that the agencies have taken some actions to improve interoperability, such as standardizing their existing data and allowing providers to view the two departments' data side-by-side (GAO report, August 2015).

However, the report found several instances in which the departments missed key deadlines.

For example, the report noted that DOD and VA missed an Oct. 1, 2014, deadline established by Congress in the Fiscal Year 2014 National Defense Authorization Act to certify that all health data in their systems met national standards and were computable in real time.

In addition, GAO said several key activities in the departments' system modernization plans will be implemented after the Dec. 31, 2016, deadline established by Congress for DOD and VA to deploy modernized EHR software.

In addition, GAO said the DOD-VA Interagency Program Office, which is tasked with helping efforts to share health data between the departments, has not yet produced or created a time frame for incorporating outcome-oriented metrics and related goals.

Recommendations

GAO recommended that DOD and VA work with IPO to:

  • Create a time frame for identifying outcome-oriented metrics;
  • Define related goals to help gauge and report on the status of interoperability; and
  • Update IPO guidance to include the metrics and goals identified.

DOD and VA said they agreed with GAO's recommendations (Health Data Management, 8/14).

Source: iHealthBeat, Friday, August 14, 2015
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